Monday, July 16, 2012

WARNING: The search for IT candidate perfection is dangerous to your bottom line.

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Training is the key to landing 'A+' candidates.
This is another one of those cases when a much talked about political issue takes my mind in a different direction on a subject. Politics aside, a great number of stories are flooding the blog scene about the skills crisis in IT and how many are suggesting that the only solution is to issue more H1B visas.

Venom flies as people debate whether or not there is in fact a need, or, if there is simply a need for cheap skilled labor. People go back and forth about how culture differences cause inefficiencies within IT organizations. It gets so bad, that I think the real issue gets missed.

There is a skills shortage…when you’re looking for the perfect candidate, every time, and at the lowest possible cost.

As an IT resources professional, I see it every day.

Taiichi Ohno, often given credit for being the father of lean manufacturing via his Toyota Production System, used ‘the pursuit of perfection’ as one of the foundations of his system. However, Ohno knew that perfection was impossible to obtain, and the goal itself is not obtain perfection but to always move closer. I am simplifying his brilliance by paraphrasing, but you get the point: You will never find the perfect candidate, and you should look for the best-fit for your organization. If you’re always looking to hire the perfect candidate, you will miss out on some amazing people who are near perfect.

The ‘Great Recession’ brought about a philosophy in the business community that you would always be able to get the best candidates, who can and will do more, for less money. It was a nice luxury for business for a couple of years.

Unfortunately, many employers are holding on to this philosophy, not just in IT but across the employment spectrum. I’ve seen candidates with 95% (or an ‘A’ grade candidate) of the skills required to do the job rejected because they were missing a software upgrade from version ‘9.0.1’ to ‘9.1.8.’ This type of thinking and searching for the perfect candidate causes delays in filling positions and leads to needless losses in productivity for the company.

In our business, you have to move quickly to secure the best-fit candidates. If you don’t, they will be made an offer by another company, possibly your competitor, while you're deciding whether or not they fit the definition of a perfect candidate.

With a little bit of training, our ‘A’ candidate could have become an ‘A+’ employee; working and doing 95% of what was needed while learning the new skill, whether self taught or company funded.

It’s good to strive for perfection. Without doing so you will never inspire innovation.

It’s even better to know you will never attain it.